The Curse of Oak Island: Season 6, Episode 5- Homecoming
The following is a Plot Summary and Analysis of Season 6, Episode 5 of the History Channel’s TV series The Curse of Oak Island.
In the Money Pit area, Craig Tester watches as the men of Choice Drilling bore another exploratory hole called HI4. He tells driller Mike Tedford that he doesn’t the expect core samples to yield anything of interest until “at least 90 feet”. Tester’s expectation suggests that Borehole HI4 must be adjacent to Robert Dunfield’s backfilled Money Pit crater- a 100-foot-wide hole which reached a depth of 140 feet.
Later, the Oak Island boys meet in the War Room, where Rick Lagina describes his and Peter Fornetti’s erstwhile trip to the home of the late Zena Halpern. Rick says that the quantity and scope of Zena’s research is “stunning”, and explains that someone will need to organize it in order to determine its relevance to the Oak Island mystery.
Rick then shows the crew a copy of the Cremona Document– the collection of manuscripts around which Zena’s Oak Island theory revolves. He explains that within the Document is a “deposition by a European knight… [which describes] a year-long voyage to the New World- what’s called ‘Onteora’”.
“I don’t know if this is 100% accurate,” Rick admits. “I don’t. I do believe with 100% certainty that it’s worth some commitment of ours to try to come to an understanding of whether” the Document is accurate. He goes on to propose that the team establish a research centre- “a place where we can gather the information regarding our work, our pursuit of answers for the Oak Island mystery, and commit ourselves to that endeavour.”
Later, Craig Tester and Charles Barkhouse oversee the drilling operation at the Money Pit area. Assisted by geologist Terry Matheson, the treasure hunters examine a core sample taken from Borehole HI4 between the depths of 109-118 feet. The sample yields a solid piece of diagonally-aligned wood, which the treasure hunters believe might be from the floor or ceiling of an old searcher tunnel. Charles Barkhouse remarks that the wood might be from the “debris field” resultant of the 1861 collapse of the Money Pit.
After examining more core samples from HI4, the treasure hunters discover fragments of wood at a depth of 128 feet. Craig Tester suggests that this wood might be the remains of the tunnel connected to “Shaft 6”. The narrator then explains that Shaft 6 was the second shaft sunk by the Oak Island Association in the mid-1800s, and that a short-lived tunnel once connected it with the Money Pit. If the wood is truly from the Shaft 6 tunnel, and if the Oak Island crew can determine the direction in which the tunnel ran, the narrator surmises that the crew might be able to locate the original Money Pit.
Apparently having found what they were looking for, the crew decides to abandon HI4 and begin drilling another hole.
The next day, a flatbed truck rolls down the Oak Island causeway bearing a portable building which wills serve as the new Oak Island research centre. At the Oak Island Vistors’ Centre, the Oak Island crew meets with Stephanie Wells and Alex Armsworthy of Kent Homes, a division of Irving Equipment Ltd. which has donated the portable building. After thanking the representatives for their contribution, the Lagina brothers and Charles Barkhouse inspect the building and agree that it is “a great start for what [they are] trying to achieve.”
The following day, Doug Crowell and Paul Troutman arrive with a shipment of research material for the research centre, most of which is from Zena Halpern.
Later, Jack Begley, Peter Fornetti, and Gary Drayton do some metal detecting on Oak Island’s Lot 21, where they discovered the brooch in the Season 6 premiere. Drayton quickly discovers an artifact which appears to be half of a decorative badge for a military cap. Shortly thereafter, he uncovers the other half. Upon closer inspection, the badge appears to bear a pattern of fleur-de-lis, marking it as an 18th Century French artifact.
Later that day, Rick Lagina, Craig Tester, Dave Blankenship and Charles Barkhouse head to the Money Pit area, where Choice Drilling is punching a new hole called IJ5.5. The narrator explains that IJ5.5 is in close proximity to Borehole GAL1, which yielded a number of mysterious metal objects and a gold-plated military officer’s button in the Season 4 finale, as well as a rose head nail in the Season 5 premiere. In an interview, Rick explains that he hopes IJ5.5 will intersect the Shaft 6 tunnel, which once intersected the Money Pit.
The following day, Rick Lagina, Charles Barkhouse, and Dan Henskee meet with Colin Gill of Irving Equipment Ltd. at Smith’s Cove, where construction of the cofferdam is underway. Gill explains that Irving Equipment has nearly completed a third of the structure.
Later on, Marty Lagina, Alex Lagina, and Laird Niven meet with Gary Drayton and Paul Troutman at the new Oak Island Research Center. There, Drayton shows the treasure hunters the French military cap badge that he found on Lot 21. Niven suggests that that the artifact might be a piece from a French grenadier’s hat. Alex then remarks that the find evokes the theory involving the Duc d’Anville expedition, which Doug Crowell introduced in Season 5, Episode 10.
Later, Rick and Marty Lagina call up writer Randall Sullivan in the War Room. Sullivan, whose book The Curse of Oak Island is scheduled for release in February 2019, asks the treasure hunters which of their 2017 Oak Island discoveries they believe to be the most significant. Marty Lagina says that the most compelling discoveries, in his opinion, are the human bones brought up from Borehole H8, as well as the lead cross found on Smith’s Cove. Sullivan then tells the Lagina brothers that, although he is personally partial to the Francis Bacon theory, he gets “the sense there was something going on… that was spread over time, and might involve… literally generations of people with Oak Island.”
After that, Rick Lagina, Craig Tester, Dave Blankenship, and Charles Barkhouse oversee the drilling of IJ5.5. The treasure hunters inspect a core sample taken from a depth of 111 feet and find that it contains fragments of wood, along with a whole vertical plank. Craig Tester opines that IJ5.5 has indeed intersected the side of Shaft 6 tunnel as hoped.
The treasure hunters call up Marty Lagina and inform him of the find. “We think we found one of the sides of Tunnel 6,” explains Craig Tester. “It’s now finding the middle, and is there any gold inside of it.”
“Yeah,” Marty replies, “because you don’t know which side to go on.”
Rick Lagina then explains that Craig would like to sink another hole to the west of IJ5.5, but that he himself would also like to drill a hole on the east side.
That evening, Rick Lagina, Charles Barkhouse, Doug Crowell, and Paul Troutman meet with Davin Halpern in the Oak Island Research Center. There, Davin presents Rick with an antique candlestick which Zena bequeathed him. Davin explains that his mother had picked this artifact up on one of her visits to a Jewish relative overseas. After thanking Davin for the gift, Rick tells him that he will continue Zena’s research. He then declares “There’s but one time this candle will be lit: when we have the answers, because of her work. And you will be here in this room when that lights up.”
In this episode, Rick Lagina declares that, although he is unsure of the legitimacy of the Cremona Document (which Zena Halpern bequeathed him), he believes that it deserves some attention from him and the crew. This position, considered alongside other (often controversial) positions that Rick has taken in the past, seem to suggest that one of Rick’s great motivations is a perceived obligation to complete the unfinished work of his Oak Island predecessors. This hypothetical philosophy is suggested by Rick’s reverential treatment of Bobby Restall’s journal in Season 1, Episode 3, and his impassioned promise to Lee Lamb (Bobby Restall’s sister) to fill in its final pages and finish the work that Bobby and Robert Sr. started. Rick’s unwillingness to “put an X through” Borehole 10-X, Dan Blankenship’s magnum opus, similarly suggests a deep respect for the work of his fellow Oak Island treasure hunters, as does his insistence that work continue in the swamp, where Fred Nolan’s laboriously-prepared survey map apparently indicates the presence of a treasure vault.
This hypothetical philosophy stands in contrast with that seemingly espoused by Marty Lagina, the practical-minded, data-driven engineer whose partiality towards theories seems dependent upon the merits of the arguments on which they are based. Marty has often described his elder brother as “honourable”. Perhaps Rick, as one of the current stewards of Oak Island, feels honour-bound to tie up the loose ends that his predecessors left behind.
The French Military Cap Badge
In this episode, Gary Drayton discovers what appears to be an 18th Century French grenadier’s hat badge on Lot 21. Alex Lagina suggests that this find is consistent with the Duc d’Anville theory introduced by Doug Crowell back in Season 5, Episode 10.
The Shaft 6 Tunnel and the Money Pit Debris Field
In this episode, Borehole HI4 yielded a solid piece of timber from a core sample taken from the depths of 109-118 feet. Charles Barkhouse suggested that the wood might be from the “debris field” resultant of the 1861 collapse of the Money Pit. Later on, Borehole IJ7.5 hit wood at a depth of 111 feet, which Craig Tester suggested was the side of Shaft 6.
Both the “debris field” and Shaft 6 have their roots in the early 1860s, when the Oak Island Association held dominion over Oak Island.
Back in 1861, the Oak Island Association attempted to bypass the Smith’s Cove flood tunnel by digging a shaft (called “Oak Island Association Shaft #2”; or “Shaft 6”) adjacent to the Money Pit and tunneling towards the point at which the treasure was believed to lie. This move was questionable considering the experiences of the Onslow and Truro Companies, which had both tried the same thing and been flooded out. Unlike their ill-fated predecessors, however, the Association decided to sink this new shaft 18 feet west of the Money Pit; the Smith’s Cove flood tunnel, if it truly existed, almost certainly approached the Money Pit from the east.
This new shaft was sunk to a depth of 118 feet without incident. From there, Association workers tunnelled laterally towards the Money Pit. Much to their pleasure, the tunnel reached the Pit without being flooded out; the circumvention was a success!
With the elusive treasure nowhere to be seen at that 118-foot depth, the labourers dug through the Money Pit to the eastern side. This decision would cost them dearly; as soon as they had breached the eastern wall of the Money Pit, water began to seep in from the east. In no time, the shaft was completely flooded with seawater. To make matters worse, crew men noticed that water was also starting to seep into the Money Pit, which had, until then, remained relatively dry.
After a massive bailing operation, the Association men went to clear the tunnel they had previously dug- which, as a result of the flooding, had become choked with mud and clay- and resume their excavation of the Money Pit where they had left off. No sooner had labourers entered the tunnel to clear the mud, however, than, according to foreman Jotham McCully, “they heard a tremendous crash in the Money Pit and barely escaped being caught by the rush of mud which followed them into the West pit and filled it up 7 feet in less than three minutes.” Apparently, the tunnel that intersected the Money Pit had weakened the shaft’s structural integrity. The Money Pit collapsed, and along with it all the cribbing the Oak Island Association had constructed.
Following this collapse, the chest which the Money Pit apparently contained (as evidenced by drilling operations conducted by the Truro Company) are believed to have sunk into a chaos of water, clay, mud, and timber- the Money Pit debris field. Some researchers believe that much of the Money Pit debris, including a potential treasure chest, slipped into the Shaft 6 tunnel. The men of Oak Island Tours Inc. hope that, if they are able to locate and determine the direction of the Shaft 6 tunnel, they may be able to find the treasure chest that possibly slid into it.
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